As I near completion of my first draft for THE KILLED CONSCIENCE, I figured now would be a good time to begin looking for beta readers.
I’ll post a book description later, but right now, I’d really love to hear what everyone thinks of the first chapter and prologue. Feel free to comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
He felt the trickle of sweat rolling down the sides of his face as he ran. His breaths heavy and labored, yet calm—like some controlled windstorm in his chest. Oh, how badly he wanted to stop, to give his body the rest it ached for. But he couldn’t stop. To stop was to voluntarily take a seat into the electric chair. No, he couldn’t stop just yet. Not when he was so close to his prey.
So, he kept his legs moving. An undying speed. Puffs of white breath in the frigid night’s air as he leapt over fallen tree trunks and swatted away branches. Not far ahead, he could see flickered glimpses of her. She sprinted in the silver moonlight, fighting with everything to push through the suffocating forest. She was quick, but even when he couldn’t see her, he never lost track of her, for her scent left a trail so potent, he followed it with a mouth-watering appetite; a stomach-growling hunger in the pit of him like a roaring thunder rolling through the trees.
She was nearing the outskirts of the forest. The faint glow of a cabin could be seen in the distance like a lighthouse. He sped up. She slowed with every cry and whimper. Her panting grew louder as she heard him approaching quick. She moved as fast as she could… but it wasn’t fast enough.
He came up behind. So close he could see the long black strands of her hair bouncing with the fear in her steps. So close he could hear her panting, feel the heat coming off her. She jumped over a fallen trunk. He jumped over it, arm outstretched, fingers open, reaching. Strands of her hair on the tips of his fingers.
Behind the canopy of overhanging branches, the moon played peekaboo as a blood curdling scream echoed through the trees.
Nature seemed to flee as wildlife went quiet. No one was around, no one came close. But if anyone were around or brave enough to get near, they wouldn’t need to get too close to hear the sound. That horrible and ugly sound. The sound of a racing heart slowing to a stop. The sound of flesh being cut and torn.
And though there was no one around to hear such sounds, there was one unlucky soul, not too far, who’d heard just enough.
Two families gathered as tears began to flow.
The sky above Knoxville, Tennessee held a pink and violet hue just over the mountains in the horizon. Warmth from the summer heat faded as the sun retreated behind the Smoky Mountains, giving way to the night and stars. Off in the front yard of a single-story condo on the west side of town, two kids stood facing one another. One was Sebastian Keller; the other, Emily Weathers. Both were ten years old at the time.
“I guess this is where we depart, old friend,” Emily said with a shoulder shrug.
“Yeah… I’ll miss you,” Sebastian replied awkwardly, almost like he was trying to make it sound happy.
“Don’t be sad. You still have Casey,” she said, looking to Casey as he walked up from behind Sebastian, holding a half-eaten pop tart in one hand and a can of lemonade in the other.
He looked from Emily to Sebastian. “What?”
“Code blue,” Sebastian said to Emily in a soft voice.
Emily covered her mouth as she tried not to laugh. “I’m sorry, sir. Do we know you?” she said to Casey.
Casey’s head fell back. “Oh not this again.”
“Okay, okay. We’ll give you a break this time. Don’t get used to it though.”
“I guess I’ll have to since you’re leaving us.”
Sebastian nodded as his eyes fell to the ground.
“Emily, come on now. Time to go,” Emily’s mother called out from the driveway.
“Well, this is it gentlemen.” Emily gave Casey a hug he couldn’t quite return with his hands full. Then she stepped in and put her arms around little Sebastian. She squeezed tight to make up for all the future hugs she wouldn’t be able to reach him for.
“Promise you’ll write me from Texas?”
“Promise. Until we see each other again.” Emily gave Sebastian a kiss on the cheek, then ran for the Uhaul. “Bye,” she shouted without looking back.
Sebastian watched as she ran off to a new life; her long black ponytail bouncing shoulder to shoulder as she did. He held up one hand to wave, and kept the other on his belly, like he was trying to hold onto that fluttering feeling of a million swarming butterflies inside. With Emily gone, he somehow knew he wouldn’t feel it again.
As the truck started, Sebastian stood strong. But as it pulled off, his bottom lip began to quiver. By the time the truck turned the corner and left his sight, his eyes were filled and blurry. Then she was gone. Forever and ever.
Sebastian ran into his house and into his room; he locked the door, buried his face into a pillow, and cried and cried and cried. I’ll never see her again, he thought. Only, he would. And if the two knew of the tragedy that was to unfold when they reconnected fifteen years later, they probably would have done it anyway.
They’re short, I know.
Let me know what you think.